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Author: Katherine Shaw

Inheritance tax: another day, another government U-turn

Inheritance tax: another day, another government U-turn

Inheritance tax: another day, another government U-turn

IHT treatment of specialty debts

The government has back-pedalled on a controversial decision on inheritance tax after widespread criticism. HMRC came under fire when it decided that a type of debt which had historically been exempt from inheritance tax would now be subject to it – going against centuries of legal precedent.

After discussions with professional bodies, it has now changed its position again – though things still aren’t back to how they were before. Let’s take a look at what’s going on.

What’s the history?

The controversy relates to a type of debt called a ‘specialty debt’, which is one owed to someone who is not domiciled in the UK. It’s a kind of debt created by a deed or a seal, not just a normal contract.

Historically, such debts, when owed to a non-dom, have been exempt from UK inheritance tax if the document recording the debt is held outside the UK. In 2013, however, HMRC decided that specialty debts should usually fall under the country where the debtor lived instead – so if the debtor lived in the UK, the debt would now fall under UK tax law.

Yeah, so what?

Under the Inheritance Tax Act, property outside the UK is not subject to inheritance tax if the person inheriting it is not domiciled in the UK. And although ordinary debts come under the country where the debtor lives for tax purposes, specialty debts are considered to be a special kind of debt, and it is a long-established UK legal principle that their legal location is that of the document recording the debt.

The principle goes back to the Elizabethan ecclesiastical courts, which held that “the debt is where the bond is, being upon a speciality; but debt upon a contract follows the person of the debtor”.

HMRC’s position was widely criticised for seeming to have come out of nowhere and conflicting with these established principles. Taxadvisermagazine.com described its change of mind as “an unexpected U-turn seemingly unsubstantiated by either legal or technical analyses”, adding:

“The practical reality is that specialty debts are an established category of formal contract in common law that has been in existence for many years, and entering such arrangements may not always be a result of only the overwhelming desire to mitigate inheritance tax exposure that HMRC believe has penetrated the non-dom society.”

Legal firm Forsters pointed out that UK resident non-doms often took out life insurance policies in the form of offshore deeds to protect them from inheritance tax.

So what’s the latest position?

HMRC’s new position is that the legal location of specialty debts will now depend on whether the debt is secured or unsecured. Broadly, where the debt is solely secured on land or other tangible property in the UK, the debt will also be in the UK.Where the debt is not secured, it will usually be where the document recording the debt is.

But if the creditor and debtor both live in the UK, but the deed … Read the rest ...

Tips for Choosing the Right Recruitment Agency

Tips for Choosing the Right Recruitment Agency

The job market is suffering from candidate skills shortage. People seeking employment should use a recruitment agency specializing in their sector. Working with a recruitment firm takes pressure off the seekers and make the search more fruitful. Recruiters also offer a job seeker the opportunity to work for noble employers. How do you make sure that you’ve selected the right agency?

Tips for Choosing the Right Recruitment Agency

Assess Your Needs

Before contacting an agency, you should be familiar with your needs. What are you looking for in the job industry? What’s preventing you from achieving your dreams? To identify the support you need from a headhunter, it’s vital to assess your portfolio as well as career prospects.

Do Your Homework

To choose the right recruitment agency, do your homework. Look at the firm’s LinkedIn profile for the experience. Is there a sign of experience in your area of specialization? Do they demonstrate the claimed experience in your conversation? Look for a recruitment agency that’s willing to cater to your needs.

Do You Need a Specialist or Generalist?

Are you designated in a particular sector or exploring your options? Perhaps you’re open to a variety including a career change. A generalist would be your first option. If you’re a trained specialist, such as an engineer, you should find a recruitment firm that connects you to your niche. The firm should understand the trends as well as quirks of the sector. If you’re a salesperson, get professional IT sales recruiters to assist you.

Inquire from Your Peers

Searching for a recruitment agency can be as simple as inquiring around. There’s a possibility that your peers know about the firm’s reputation through their network. They have possibly been in touch with the company. Since recruiters are social, you might find invaluable information online. Ask your peers to recommend the best.

Refer to the Website and Resources

When looking at a firm’s website, begin by looking at the profile. You’ll find their experience, strengths, and expertise of the consultants. Scroll through the board to see job descriptions matching your preferences. Read through their resources and note their achievement.

Interview Recruiters like Job Candidates

Interview prospective recruiters like you’d interview candidates seeking employment. Ask if they have candidates for your position in their database. Ask how they will assess candidates for available positions. Recruitment firms can be rigid about talent procurement contracts. The best agencies provide flexible terms. They are also nimble and geared towards success.

Follow the Firm’s Social Media Sites

Find a recruitment agency that observes the current developments in the industry. Since social media is a primary communication medium for many, a good recruitment agency will post regular updates to stay in touch with clients and candidates. Pick the agency you feel can offer the right package.

Many agencies are specializing in recruitment. Some offer generalized recruitment while others provide headhunting for particular sectors. If a job hunter is seeking employment from a specific industry, it’s prudent to find a recruitment agency that focuses on recruiting for … Read the rest ...

The Importance of Reading Safety Signs

The Importance of Reading Safety Signs

We’ve all experienced a time when we’re trying to enter or exit a place, and someone is either trying to get out or in. You find yourself looking up at the sign to make sure you’re in the right spot. Not everyone reads these safety signs. That’s why it’s important to read on your own instead of following a crowd. Some people engage in unsafe or hazardous activities, knowingly and unknowingly. Following these select few can lead you and themselves right to harm. Safety signs you may really want to pay attention to are exit signs, entrance signs and do not enter signs.

The Importance of Reading Safety Signs

Exit Signs

Being observant of your surroundings not only means acknowledging who or what is in your environment. These days you also need an escape plan. Exit signs are a breath of fresh air when you need to get out of somewhere quickly. Take note of where they are. Even if you don’t feel like you’ll remember, this information may come back to you in a time of need. Another thing to note is exits are not made to be blocked. If you’re one of the shoppers that tend to stand outside of the store checking items or receipts, please be courteous and stand off to the side. Do not block the exit. That can be a safety hazard.

Entrance Signs

If you’ve ever gone to the store and had someone walking out of the clearly defined entrance and you’re walking in, then you know how important it is to read this sign. Entrance signs help the flow of traffic. Generally, all the people that follow the entrance sign are headed in the same direction. You don’t want to find yourself standing outside of a door that doesn’t open. Usually locked or blocked doors will have an arrow that points to where the entrance is. It’s not a joke. That is exactly how the company expects the traffic to flow into the inside. Other signs that might let traffic know what’s going on is the fancy open and closed digital signs. If you’re interested, search for things like Digital Signage Displays.

No Entry Signs

These signs are there to prevent hazards. In stores, they may be a path for the forklift or areas where only employees are permitted. You don’t know what is waiting for you behind doors or the lane that the sign is blocking. Usually, one-way traffic is permitted through or in work areas it might be an area for large equipment or vehicles might be moving around. A person walking or driving in no-entry areas could face serious injuries. Follow the directions on these signs and find another way to get where you’re going.

All signage is important to read, but especially signs that can save your life. Pay attention to your environment. Use the signs that were installed to help you navigate your way through an office, building or warehouse. Use those same safety precautions when you’re driving so you don’t risk … Read the rest ...

Don’t Forget the Accountant When Starting Your Own Business

Don’t Forget the Accountant When Starting Your Own Business

At some point, somewhere, in someplace, someone you know is thinking about or actually starting a viable business of some kind. Whether they succeed or fail in this endeavor will depend in part on how well they manage the books. The activity of recording business transactions or bookkeeping helps businesses account for what you’re doing now and hope to do in the near the future.

Don’t Forget the Accountant When Starting Your Own Business

Not a numbers person? Don’t let that frighten you. Think of it, instead, as just information about your business. And that means to a large extent, your employees, your customers, your vendors. The total of this aggregate and more are your business’ assets. Let’s say you entered all of this data into a spreadsheet to keep things organized. This would help you better track the businesses expenses. And to make things easier you can use bookkeeping software to simplify the process.

Assets and Liabilities

Here’s the skinny on these two biggies. Your assets would be your business equipment, inventory items, accounts receivable (money owed by customers). Your liabilities would be for example, money YOU owe to others (accounts payable), credit card balances and other balances scheduled for the following year.

What does all of this counting of assets and liabilities mean? Well, once you set everything up right, it will help manage the financial health of your company. People go into business to make a profit, and hopefully reduce their taxes as well. If things get too challenging, there are capable business accounting professionals available to assist you.

Professionals Are Available

Watson & Watt are a small business accountant firm that will make sure your books stay balanced. They use technology strategically to minimize the more boring parts of the number crunching task and show you visually the health of your business.

But what if you have a small business and happen to be the DIY type? No matter, general business accounting is just another skill that can be learned, in time. But fair warning, there will be some required reading on your part.

Here are a few necessities:

  • Register your business
  • Open a bank account
  • Set-up your bookkeeping system (payroll, import tax info)
  • Organize your business’ receipts

As well as know your overall business numbers as well as a good chef knows to the penny his restaurants food cost. Whether you opt to go solo or use a trained professional is your decision. A good rule of thumb though is to keep things simple. Remember, assets are items that add value to your business (e.g., cash on hand, the machines in used in your business, cash). Liabilities are owed credit amounts (i.e., accounts payable).

Take things one step at a time. Enter data carefully. Enter data accurately. Ask questions where appropriate. Back up your data. In time, you will make steady progress. Who knows, you may even begin to enjoy the whole numbers side of your business. Learning can be fun when you’re doing something you enjoy.… Read the rest ...

4 Pricing Strategies I Learned by Letting Strangers Sleep in My Bed

4 Pricing Strategies I Learned by Letting Strangers Sleep in My Bed

Let’s talk online pricing strategies… in bed. I’ve learned a lot about pricing by letting strangers sleep in my bed. Now, before you get the wrong idea, no, I haven’t joined the world’s oldest profession. I’m still an online marketer, and as an online marketer, I’ve loved learning about online pricing strategies by renting my guestroom to travellers via Airbnb.

I’ve been hosting and traveling on Airbnb for more than two years. I live in Tempe, Arizona, so most of my guests are students or academics visiting Arizona State University or athletes competing at Tempe Town Lake, and I find it a great supplement to my income. I run a small business, very small so I don’t have to deal with any HR issues, and therefore any extra income is a real boon. Spring Training baseball is also a big draw. My experience as an Airbnb host has taught me a thing or two about pricing strategy for online products. Let’s take a look at four of those lessons.

4 Pricing Strategies I Learned by Letting Strangers Sleep in My Bed

1. Meet seasonal demand

I offer a standard price that’s active most of the year, plus two variable prices that are tied to peak demand periods. In summer, I charge less. After all, Arizona doesn’t get a ton of visitors when it’s 110 degrees outside. During spring training (and other big events like Arizona’s recent Super Bowl), I charge significantly more. My seasonal pricing adjustments aren’t about gouging visitors. They’re about supply and demand. When demand goes up, so does price.

Question: What seasonal fluctuations in your business – even subtle ones – could you flatten by increasing and decreasing price to meet demand?

2. Offer volume discounts

As a host, my only real expense is the time it takes to run the laundry and freshen the room between guests. Longer guest stays mean less work and lower variable costs. So, when someone asks about booking for a month or even a week, I give them a discount to close the deal. Duh. Furthermore, the biggest money loser for my Airbnb business is letting the guestroom sit empty between stays. The more nights a guest stays, the fewer nights the room is fallow.

Question: Would your customers buy more of what you sell if you gave them a discount that didn’t cut too deeply into your bottom line?

3. Nix the gotcha fees

Some of my fellow Airbnb hosts charge a cleaning fee for each booking. As a traveller, it can be a little frustrating to discover this additional fee while comparing properties. Why not just work the cost of cleaning into the base cost of the room? These kinds of fees are called gotchas. (Ticket sellers, airlines, and cable companies are true masters of the gotcha.) Give me one good reason from a customer experience standpoint to tack on a gotcha fee.

Question: Could you work the cost of shipping into your base price? Would calling out “free shipping!” help draw in buyers?

4. Pad for extra services

Some Read the rest ...